by Quinn Levandoski
previewed on PC
The Staff is mightier than the Calculator (cntd)
Auto-attack is gone, making combat seem much more involved. The animations look less like your character is poking the enemy until their health meter falls to zero, and more like your hero or heroine is actually trying to cause some damage. Weapons have weight. People get knocked all over. Collisions, explosions, and spells boast sound effects that convey real intensity. Players can also change weapon sets on the fly, allowing for fluid strategies that adapt along with the situation at hand. One minute you might be up close and personal stabbing some baddies in the back, only to realize another group is running in from afar. Instead of worrying how to sneak over to them, perhaps you’d rather switch out your daggers for a firearm and pick them off from where you are.
Speaking of weapons, the skills system is being tweaked as well. In the original Guild Wars, players could select their set of skills in any hub location, and were locked in when out in explorable areas. In Guild Wars 2, half of a player’s skills will still be set, but half of a character’s skills will be tied to their weapon (which can be changed much easier on the fly). Changing weapons will bring in a whole new half-set of skills, allowing for moment-to-moment shifts in strategy. Not only will this aid you in how you fight, but it will aid you in reading your enemy as well. All weapons of the same type have the same four base skills locked on to them, so if you see someone carrying a particular weapon you know what at least half of their powers will be, allowing you to plan accordingly.
The Best Of Both Worlds
Some might say that the lack of need for extreme micro-managing before combat makes it easier or dumbed down, but I think that the flexibility provided by improvements like this will actually allow for deeper thought and strategy where players can, and must, feed off of the team’s individual thoughts and situations with only a moment’s notice. Do you have too many engineers on your team? By switching weapons the engineers can turn into make-shift tanks, healers, or ranged fighters. This takes teamwork and communication, however, as having everyone shifting around without reason or cause can create more harm than simply being mis-matched to start with. The game isn’t turning into an action game, but the combat should be a nice change of pace for those out there looking something a bit different.
So, with all of these improvements, will Guild Wars 2 still be void of monthly fees? Absolutely. According to ArenaNet, they think the problem with a lot of MMOs is that their player base is entering the game as a secondary title to an established title like World of Warcraft. They may play it for a short while, but once the 30 free days are up, they will end up picking one or the other since two amounts of 15 dollars a month is a large expense. Normally they will fall back to the one that they’ve invested so much of their time into already. With a free-after-you-buy system, players can stick around as long as they want. Then, once they’ve stuck around for awhile, they may see that they really like what Guild Wars 2 has to offer. At that point they can simply continue to enjoy what they paid for, purchase in-game items to add more content to the title, or purchase the unannounced, but almost certain to appear, expansions similar to those found in the original Guild Wars.
I think that Guild Wars has the potential to be something special, but only if it is able to deliver on all of its promises. Actually, according to its creators, the game has the potential to be the best MMO ever made, which is why the game doesn’t have a solid release date yet. They aren’t concerned with getting the product out by a certain date, but instead are concerned with making sure that their talented staff has all of the time that they need to make a game that is as good as it can possibly be, which is a pretty good reason to wait if you ask me. Congratulations ArenaNet, you’ve made this non-MMO fan very excited indeed.